Optimising Protected Area Networks in Europe
Europe not only contains multiple biogeographic regions and considerable habitat space for biodiversity, but also boasts a plethora of conservation designations on various levels of administration (local, national, regional, etc.). Structured conservation regimes are of significant importance to retention and preservation of biodiversity on both ecological and regional scales.
Conservation strategies are currently not accounting for optimisation potential, especially when including changing bioclimatic conditions. Additionally, range fluctuations due to encroachment by infrastructure development throughout Europe pose both challenges and opportunities for conservation.
Incorporating both climatic and development changes into strategic conservation planning will allow for more resilient conservation designations throughout the region. As a tool, species distribution modelling is used to inform future range areas and thus potential sites worthy of protection in order to encompass needed species in adequate areas and quantities. The political-economic dimension of efficient conservation is targeted within this project as well by accounting for factors such as land use and development potential of areas through opportunity cost approaches.
The interdisciplinary approach of this research project spans assessments of current conservation networks, detailed analysis of species distribution modelling, use of paleoecological data, and the explicit incorporation of economic factors/ land value into conservation decisions.